The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Jason, Mon Amore


A few years ago when I still worked at Pages, one of the creative/media executives who frequented the bookstore sent his assistant to exchange a copy of comic book by award-winning Norwegian cartoonist Jason that he’d bought from us earlier that day. The book, she said, was faulty. Apparently there were pages missing so the story didn’t make sense and her boss wanted a new copy. She had a receipt so I swapped the book without much thought. It wasn’t until after she’d left and I looked through the returned book that I realised there was nothing wrong with it. The pages were all there, her boss just hadn’t got it. She would be back later for a refund.

In a sense, the confusion was understandable: Jason’s anthropomorphic comics are surreal and require concentration to follow.

In another sense, the dude was simply an idiot because Jason is awesome.

Jason is perhaps the most unique visual stylists working in comics today. Each individual panel is a work of ligne claire pop art: flat, beautifully coloured and amplified for effect.

The deceptively simple stories — often thrillers and off-beat romances — feature anti-heroes, guns, girls, historical figures, b-movie monsters, robots, and aliens. They’re a brilliant mix of silent pictures, film noir, La Nouvelle Vague, classic literature, crime fiction, sci-fi and pulp magazines. There are obvious elements of Hergé, but strange, deadpan, and imbued with ennui and loneliness, Jason’s comics also evoke Hitchcock, Godard, Jarmusch, and Lynch.

In I Killed Adolf Hitler a hit man goes back in time to assassinate Adolf Hitler with unexpected personal consequences. In The Left Bank Gang Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Pound, and Joyce are graphic novelists planning a heist in 1920’s Paris. In Why Are You Doing This? Alex is framed for the murder of his best-friend.

Published in North America by Fantagraphics, Jason’s most recent book, Werewolves of Montpellier, features a thief who disguises himself as a werewolf. A 6 page preview is available on the Fantagraphics blog. If you haven’t checked out Jason’s work already, now’s a great time…

More of Jason’s artwork can be seen on the Fantagraphics’ on Flickr photostream.

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  2. I love Jason’s work! I own (and have read) about half of his books and need to get the rest soon. Thanks for the reminder!

    PS: Have you ever read Jeff Lemire’s Essex County trilogy? Similar tone as Jason’s work, I think, especially Volume 2: Ghost Stories.

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  4. Hey Guy. Thanks for the comment. I love Jason’s The Left Bank Gang and I Killed Adolf Hitler. I haven’t picked up Werewolves of Montpellier yet, but plan to ASAP.

    I haven’t read any Jeff Lemire, but clearly I should. Thanks for the recommendation… Lemire’s Sweet Tooth keeps popping up on my radar as well.


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  6. Great post! I’ve been a huge fan of Jason for a while and he’s now a tremendous influence on my work. I even did a tribute comic to get it out of the way. Left Bank Gang is probably my favorite. I’m really glad his work is being published by Fantagraphics and well received in US.

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